A French court has approved on Tuesday the extradition of the daughter of a late South Korean tycoon in connection with the deadly 2014 Sewol ferry disaster that left 304 dead.
Yoo Sum-na, daughter of the former owner of Cheoghaejin Marine, was wanted by Korean authorities on suspicion of embezzling about 49.2 billion won ($40,500) from subsidiaries of the family company.
The Korean authorities had requested the extradition of Yoo, who has been living in Paris, as part of the probe into suspected links between the embezzlement and safety defects leading to the sinking of Sewol ferry on April 16, 2014.
An overloaded ferry and the government’s botched rescue efforts have been blamed for the nation’s worst maritime disaster.
Yoo had refused the call and went on the run, but French police arrested Yoo at her luxurious apartment in Paris in May 2014. She had filed a suit with a French court to fight the extradition bid.
Yoo had denied the charges and maintained that she was not related to the Sewol ferry disaster. She had denounced the extradition attempt as politically motivated. She had also claimed that she would suffer from forcible labor in jail and that the trials held in Korea would lean against her.
An appeals court had ordered the French authorities to extradite Yoo to Korea in December 2015, saying that Yoo is entitled to her rights for defense and fair trial in Korea. The highest court had dismissed Yoo’s claim about possible human rights violation in prison.
Even if the extradition takes effect with the French Prime Minister signing off on the plan, the process will likely take long as Yoo has vowed to lodge an appeal with France’s highest administrative court and then the European Court of Human Rights.
“We plan to do our best to rapidly extradite Yoo in close cooperation with the French government,” an official from the Justice Ministry said.
Yoo’s brother Yoo Dae-Kyun was found guilty of money laundering and jailed for two years in May 2015.
Lee Jun-seok, the captain of the Sewol ferry, was sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of gross negligence and dereliction of duty in November 2015.
By Ock Hyun-ju (email@example.com)